Guest Post by Syy: PSYCHO PASS Review

I had put out a call for guest posts at the beginning of my vacation. Syy was kind enough to offer to share his video review of PYSCHO PASS. You may remember Syy as the guy who did the awesome reading of my SAO fanfiction. Unfortunately I was distracted by my vacation and my host screwed up my configuration so I couldn’t log in to the site for the past month. Anyway, I fixed it, so here’s Syy’s video and the script! I’ll be back in a few days.

Greetings Otaku’s and Otakets, I am Syy, and I have a question. Does Psycho-Pass suck? Let’s find out.

Psycho Pass, an original anime from Production I.G., directed by Katsuyuki Motohiro, and written by Gen Urobuchi who was the head writer for Madoka Magica. Psycho-Pass is set in a pseudo-utopian / dystopian cyberpunk future, (which to me is one of the best, if not the best setting for any media) , in which a program called the Sibyl System is constantly measuring every persons mental state, and giving them an assessment based on a variety of factors, and the result is that persons Psycho Pass. The story focuses on the recently appointed inspector, Akane Tsunemori as she adapts to the world she lives in, in which The Sybil System is Judge, Jury, and Executioner.

The first thing that stands out about Psycho-Pass is it’s cyberpunk setting, a setting that is pitifully underused in todays media. I don’t know what it is, but something about a sci-fi future that’s only a hundred years off really appeals to me. Maybe because by then sex robots will be commonplace and available on an open market, but I digress.  The thing that really cements the cyberpunk theme in Psycho-Pass is the great artwork. From what I’ve been told, the broadcast version of Psycho-Pass had some fairly major issues later on in the animation department, but I’ve also been told that the retail release actually went in and redid a few episodes, so that shouldn’t be much of an issue.

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Speaking of the retail release, I actually did something out of character, and watched Psycho-Pass’s dub, and I found that it’s actually pretty good. I spent the first episode flipping back and forth between sub and dub, as I usually will do given the option, and although I usually just watch with subtitles, I quite enjoyed the english voice actors. Kate Oxley does a good job providing Akane’s innocent voice when shes a newbie, and turning it gradually into the voice of a hardened officer over time. The entire cast fits perfectly into their characters, and there’s no one in the series I can point to as having a bad VA or a VA that doesn’t fit their personalities. What little of them they have.

You  see, the biggest problem with Psycho-Pass is it’s characters are universally bland. If you’ve seen a 90’s cop film, you’ve seen the characters in Psycho-Pass. There’s Akane,  the rookie with a heart of gold who gradually becomes the hardened cop over time, Kogami, the loose cannon cop on the edge who doesn’t play by the rules, and is obsessed with finding a criminal because he killed someone close to him, Ginoza, the officer with one hand on the rule book and a stick up his ass. Masaoka the grizzled veteran. Kagari, the young teenage rebel, and my personal favorite, Kunizuka a character introduced halfway through the series who the proceeds to have zero effect or impact on anything. And that’s just the main characters. The side characters are even less developed.

The way the series progresses is that the first half of the show focuses on a series of small crimes, and the second half of the show focuses on how and why they’re linked. But the minor villains in the first half are mostly just generic psychopaths with 0 character outside of revenge, anger, or just plain being evil.

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And that’s the thing, in a thriller anime, the two most important things are the characters and the suspense, and Psycho-Passes characters suck. So that means one missing leg right out of the gate, but as the show goes on, there’s surprisingly little suspense. In film, suspense relies on twists; things the audience doesn’t suspect. But Psycho-Pass doesn’t really have very many twists, and even the ones they do have range from being bland and uninteresting to just plain stupid. *cough* The Sybil System *cough*

I really wish Production I.G. had taken more risks when making Psycho-Pass, thrown in an extra element or.. something to spice it up. For example, from the very first episode when the Sybil System tells Akane to kill the girl the criminal had taken hostage, the Sybil System is unambiguously evil. There’s no question that it’s not good enough to rule society if it can be taken advantage of that easily. And even the main villain’s Psycho-Pass cannot be read by the Sybil System, and we see that there are helmets that can interfere with a Psycho-Pass rating, so it’s also flawed in that respect. But what if the Sybil System was perfect? Sybil always made the right call, there was no ambiguity, or question about it. Then we could use the Sybil System as a filter to examine whether or not it was right for a computer, even a perfect one, to decide the fate of all humanity. Or, what if Akane had to constantly battle to keep her Psycho-Pass down? In the series, it’s always unrealistically low because she’s the main character and has plot armor. But what if she had the same worries as everyone else in this society, and we watched her constantly walking up to the edge of insanity, only to try to pull herself back. That would have been interesting, but Psycho-Pass seems hell bent on playing things safe..

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So, does that mean Psycho-Pass sucks? Well, I won’t say it sucks. It’s heavily flawed yes, but despite all of that, I marathoned the show in a few days, and was constantly entertained regardless of all the problems it had. I think what caused that was mostly the cyberpunk setting, but also the promise that they would take some risks or throw in something from out of left field, which like I said doesn’t happen. And despite enjoying it while it lasted, looking back I started to think about all the pointless scenes needless and cliche’d characters, and I don’t know that I would recommend it. Sure it’s better than the majority of anime, but I feel like it had the potential to be something great. So my final verdicts is that it’s necessarily a waste of time if you want to watch it, but I don’t think it’s something you should go out of your way to experience. An okay and engaging experience while it lasts, but flawed enough overall for me to not want to recommend it.

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Thank you guys very much for watching…

7 thoughts on “Guest Post by Syy: PSYCHO PASS Review

  1. Completely agree with your assessment of Psycho Pass. Not awful to watch, but full of cliches and not really very suspenseful.

    I once read an interesting comment about the show’s writer, Gen Urobuchi, that I think bears repeating. The writer declared that Urobuchi is the worst thing to ever happen to anime because while he’s undeniably competent – something which a lot of anime writers aren’t – he lacks the crazy edge and bonkers viewpoint that makes the best anime so compelling. To me, Psycho Pass is damning evidence that the comment was right. It’s absolutely competent, but seems soulless and unable to commit to actually trying to make any but the most obvious points.

    God help us if anime seeks out more Urobuchi-like writers.

    1. It certainly sounds impressive when you make a bold statement like that. But when you think about what is actually being said for even a moment, it’s just incredibly silly. What you’re essentially saying is that Urobuchi is a competent writer, but not the best, so he’s the worst. Yeah you’re also implying that the anime industry might want more people like him, but how is that any worse than hiring people who consistently write bad stuff?

  2. I will definitely check out the 2nd season in the coming weeks. Wonder if Akane will slowly be consumed and follow the path Kogami went down.

  3. “You see, the biggest problem with Psycho-Pass is it’s characters are universally bland. If you’ve seen a 90’s cop film, you’ve seen the characters in Psycho-Pass.”

    Just because this show borrows heavily from cop movies doesn’t mean its characters are bland. Akane had a remarkable arc across these 22 episodes, Kogami’s backstory (moving from detective to enforcer) put a cool spin on his “loose cannon” trope, and the Masaoka/Ginoza relationship paid big dividends by the end of the series, even if Ginoza was boring at the start.

    When it comes to police dramas, there’s nothing new under the sun. We ought to evaluate these kinds of shows based on their own merits, not whether they revolutionize the genre.

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